Friday, April 21, 2006


It is always frustrating when traveling some place new trying to find your way around. That was my experience when I recently traveled to California to attend technical training and visit one of my company’s facilities. I actually left the hotel an hour early on my first day so I could find the way. Each time I successfully found the correct turn I quickly located something around me for a landmark. The remainder of the week would be much easier if I had familiar sights to mark the turns. The confusion came when all the buildings started blending together which can easily happen in crowded places. Trust me, it was crowded.

Many of us growing up around the Shoals Area are familiar with landmarks that became embedded our lives. Some of the more common ones include the now missing railroad lift bridge near O’Neal Bridge. Or even more memorable was the neon Coca-Cola sign or the WOWL owl that welcomed you to Florence once you crossed the bridge. They became subtly missing unless, like me, you don’t make it home as often as you would like. Then you are dramatically thrown off course in thought rather than direction. Some dated landmarks eventually fade in memory.

Granddaddy Daily had a knack for landmarks and a good portion of those passed to my Dad. As for me, the landmarks faded for most of these points were old home sites long abandoned. Driving along the rural areas of Colbert County we would pass the old Hester place or Denton place. Granddaddy would know the name and could tell you most of the details. He never got lost. Planning a deer hunt usually involved several names relating to landmarks for the best hunting spots. And, in those days I probably knew most of them. Sadly many have faded.

One that has not faded in my mind is the Blue Hole. The Blue Hole was our famous fishing spot early on the route of Buzzard Roost Creek. Now if you don’t know Buzzard Roost Creek then you probably haven’t traveled much in the rural areas of western Colbert County. If you don’t know the Blue Hole you missed out on a very good fishing spot. I haven’t visited the Blue Hole in years and, for my knowledge, it may be a victim of erosion or just time.

A more memorable landmark would be Bald Knob, a bare hill located off a dirt road near Mountain Springs. As Granddaddy aged he often enjoyed traveling with me in our old Jeep or Dad’s truck. He always said to never worry because any road always came out somewhere. On a particular rainy day he asked that I take him to Bald Knob. It would be a muddy trip, but I had the Jeep and he was very adamant that we go. At first the mud wasn’t too bad so I hadn’t “locked in” the front hubs on our Jeep. As I made that final turn before ascending the hill I noticed what looked like the entire Tennessee River flowing down that hill. It was too late to stop. The wheel hubs would not be locked but our fate was locked. We sped up that hill jumping and spinning while Granddaddy held on tight bouncing in his seat. If he had any pain you couldn’t tell from the laughing. Luckily we made it to the top and I stopped to wipe the sweat. Granddaddy, still laughing, looked at me and announced it would be his last ride with me and it was a great trip. He left us not long after that trip. Now when I pass the turn for that dirt road I can’t help but laugh with him.

Dad sold the old Jeep and replaced it with a new one that I dare not take on such a trip. The years have passed but the memory of that trip lasts forever and the road to Bald Knob has become an indelible landmark for me. The trip even made the collection of poetry I have written. Perhaps one day I will be able to take my son or future grandson on a similar trip that will create such a joyful lasting landmark of my contribution in their life.